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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is sitting solidly higher for the second day in a row, with the blue-chip barometer up 91 points, or 0.6%, at 16,338.22. Traders are taking a risk-on attitude after Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said he is not seeking control of other Ukraine territories. Back on the home front, better-than-expected reports on housing starts and building permits, and an in-line reading on consumer prices, have helped to stoke the bullish bias. Meanwhile, as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins its two-day policy-setting meeting today, investors will be looking ahead to tomorrow's interest-rate announcement.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges stands at 0.79. Roughly 3.34 million calls, compared to about 2.65 million puts, have crossed the tape so far.
Among the names seeing accelerated call activity today is Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). The shares hit a nearly 14-year high of $39.90 this morning before easing back to their current perch at $39.59, thanks to a bullish brokerage note and speculation MSFT's Office software for Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad could debut later this month. At last check, nearly 76% of the day's options volume had occurred on the call side.
- The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 2.66, with advancing stocks more than doubling declining ones.
Among the top performers on the Nasdaq today is Chinese Internet concern 21Vianet Group Inc (NASDAQ:VNET). The equity was up 12.5% to $31.28 at last check, after earlier hitting the $31.90 mark -- its highest on record. This morning, Credit Suisse raised its outlook on VNET to "outperform" from "neutral."
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is down 1.40 points, or 9%, at 14.24. The market's "fear gauge" is on track to close south of its 10-day moving average for the first time since March 10.
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) has shed 3.2% today to $43.74. Meanwhile, the ETN's put/call volume ratio stands at 1.47, with put volume outweighing call volume.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI).